Chicago Train Stop Named for Sister Jean

via the AP:

Loyola University’s Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt got some Chicago hardware with her name on it for her 103rd birthday.

School, city and state leaders celebrated Sunday with the Catholic nun who became something of a folk hero as chaplain for the Loyola men’s basketball team that reached the NCAA Final Four in 2018.

A highlight was the renaming in her honor of the Chicago train station plaza at the Loyola campus. Students and visitors will pass by a large sign marking it as “Home of the World Famous Sister Jean!”

Loyola officials praised Sister Jean, who was dressed in school colors of maroon and gold, as a mentor to generations of students.


Marijuana and Hallucinogen Use Soars Among Young Adults

via the NY Times:

Marijuana and hallucinogen use among young adults reached an all-time record last year after having leveled off during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, according to federal survey data.

The findings, part of the government’s annual survey of drug use among young Americans, also found that nicotine vaping and excessive alcohol consumption continued to climb in 2021 after a brief pause. Another worrying trend among young people, ages 19 to 30: mounting consumption of alcoholic beverages suffused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis….

The survey found that 43 percent in the 19-30 age group had used cannabis 20 or more times over the previous month, up from 34 percent. In 2011, that figure was 29 percent. Daily marijuana consumption also jumped significantly, to 11 percent from 6 percent in 2011….

Not surprisingly, the surge in marijuana use has been occurring in tandem with a rise in the number of states that have legalized recreational use — 19 in the past decade. (Another 13 states allow the medical use of cannabis.) Experts say the normalization of marijuana has helped persuade many young people that it is harmless.

A similar dynamic, experts say, is also at play with psychedelics. The use of hallucinogens had been stable for decades, but in 2021, 8 percent of young adults reported using psychedelics compared with 3 percent in 2011, a record high since the category was first surveyed in 1988.


Canada’s Disturbing Euthanasia Laws

Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

via the AP:

Human rights advocates say the country’s regulations lack necessary safeguards, devalue the lives of disabled people and are prompting doctors and health workers to suggest the procedure to those who might not otherwise consider it.

Equally troubling, advocates say, are instances in which people have sought to be killed because they weren’t getting adequate government support to live.

Canada is set to expand euthanasia access next year, but these advocates say the system warrants further scrutiny now.

Euthanasia “cannot be a default for Canada’s failure to fulfill its human rights obligations,” said Marie-Claude Landry, the head of its Human Rights Commission.

Landry said she shares the “grave concern” voiced last year by three U.N. human rights experts, who wrote that Canada’s euthanasia law appeared to violate the agency’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They said the law had a “discriminatory impact” on disabled people and was inconsistent with Canada’s obligations to uphold international human rights standards.

Tim Stainton, director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the University of British Columbia, described Canada’s law as “probably the biggest existential threat to disabled people since the Nazis’ program in Germany in the 1930s.”

During his recent trip to Canada, Pope Francis blasted what he has labeled the culture of waste that considers elderly and disabled people disposable. “We need to learn how to listen to the pain” of the poor and most marginalized, Francis said, lamenting the “patients who, in place of affection, are administered death.”


Reflections on the Greatness of Bill Russell (1934-2022)

Vinson Cunningham writes:

In an era when the N.B.A. was much less marketable, and therefore much less forcibly narrativized, than it is today, Russell nonetheless crafted a persona that lasted him a lifetime. Part of it was the intelligence and rectitude of his playing style. Over six-nine with long limbs and air-cutting speed, he offered his physical and mental gifts at the altar of defense. (He wasn’t known as a shooter, but he could’ve scored a lot if he’d made it a goal. One short video shows him on a fast break, zooming up-court, taking a few long steps that teleport him from half-court to the rim with an easy force that prefigures Giannis Antetokounmpo.) Game footage of Russell is rare, but what we do have reveals a greyhound’s grace and a brain like sonar, locating defenders who had slipped past his teammates and, in a loping step or two, arriving on time to offer assistance. A famous photograph depicts him jumping almost perfectly vertically, his arm outstretched like an ancient tree branch, blocking a shot that couldn’t possibly, given the distance, be his primary responsibility.

Such was the deep, self-giving morality of Russell’s game, and what made him a natural fit, in his latter years, to serve as a player-coach (not to mention the first Black head coach in any major American pro-sports league): he took every flinching movement or forward advance on the court as his own issue to address. The cost and the substance of his greatness was total awareness, an impossible density of movement and thought….

Concurrent with that on-court genius were his steadfast political engagement and personal resilience. The fifties and sixties were excruciating years in America, and they became a social gantlet for Russell. He was big, smart, self-accepting, sometimes remote, rightly pissed—the kind of Black man who flips switches in the wrong kinds of minds….

When he talked about his involvement with the civil-rights movement, he didn’t sound like a happy warrior or an eager activist—just a man who, by dint of his color and his status, had a job that he knew he couldn’t shirk. He loaned his presence, loaned that face and his voice, to help solve a problem he hadn’t caused. One more price to pay. It was help defense: if you could, you did.

Marcus Thompson II writes:

His professional success, his love for his people, and his courage did the dual task of representing his people and empowering them. He was not only an example of what was possible, that Black people could make it to incredible heights, but getting there didn’t require compromise. He was also part of the revolution that was being televised, on the platform of sports, for the inspiration of future generations.

Certainly, this view is impacted by being born and raised in Oakland, where Russell is on The Town Rushmore. Not of sports, but of impact. Russell is among the last of a critical generation. One that produced these hubs of Black success in places like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. One that went and took what was promised to them during Reconstruction but never delivered.

Russell was a pioneer of that generation, a bastion for what it represented and what it instilled. He was a pillar standing at the intersection of sports and Black progress, excellence and expectation, dominance and demand.

Marc J. Spears writes:

Russell was widely considered a paramount figure in NBA history after winning 11 times with the Celtics in 13 years but was just as well known for being outspoken on social justice issues. The two-time Basketball Hall of Famer was the first African American coach in NBA history and a part of the first all-Black starting five.

The Olympic gold medalist was a renowned civil rights advocate who led a player protest when Celtics players were denied service at a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1961 and showed his support of NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem in 2017 by posting a photo of himself kneeling on his Twitter account….

Philadelphia/Golden State Warriors patriarch and Hall of Famer Al Attles played against Russell during his NBA days and was pained by the news of his death. Attles credited Russell for paving the way for Black NBA players.

“I am in a terrible place,” Attles, 85, said. “As great as he was as a player, once I got to know him, he was a much better person. There were a lot of things that he did for the Celtics, and he blocked my shots. But he was a great person.

“He opened a lot of doors and doors that you don’t talk about. He touched a lot of people.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes:

When I learned that my friend Bill Russell had died, I tweeted this response: “Bill Russell was the quintessential Big Man—not because of his height but because of the size of his heart. In basketball he showed us how to play with grace and passion. In life he showed us how to live with compassion and joy. He was my friend, my mentor, my role model.”

That’s as much truth as I could fit into 272 characters (with spaces). But there is a whole lot more truth and love and respect in my 60-year relationship with Bill Russell that I want to share so the world can know him, not just as one of the greatest basketball players to ever live, but as a man who taught me how to be bigger—as a player and as a man.

Logan Murdock writes:

Russell was a staunch civil rights leader. Of the 250,000 people who flooded the National Mall on August 28, 1963, for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Russell was in the front row. He was a pallbearer at Jackie Robinson’s funeral in 1972. And when Muhammad Ali declined to participate in the Vietnam War, Russell, with the help of NFL star Jim Brown, organized a meeting dubbed the “Cleveland Summit” to offer support for the boxer. His example inspired millions for generations to come, including the man tasked with giving Russell the highest civilian honor in 2011.

“He said, ‘Thanks for the inspiration,’” Russell said of Obama. “He said I was one of the reasons he was able to become president.”

Jerry Brewer writes:

While it is fair to debate whether better individual basketball players have taken the court, Russell is an incomparable figure after factoring in team success at all levels (high school, college, Olympics and the NBA), leadership, adaptability, mental strength and societal impact off the floor. He was a star who did the dirty work, a defensive savant who led the Boston Celtics to 11 championships by excelling at whatever winning required. And he was a star who did the important work, a disrupter who demanded better from America and confronted racism without fear or fatigue.

He was a fully dimensional Black athlete more than a half century before it was okay to be one. In the 1960s, vandals broke into his house in the Boston suburbs, scrawled hatred on the walls and left feces in his bed. But there was no intimidating Russell. On the court, he went head to head with Wilt Chamberlain, a towering rival who, at 7-foot-1 and 275 pounds, was four inches taller and 60 pounds heavier than Russell. Still, Russell’s Celtics dominated the postseason matchups against Chamberlain’s teams. Though Chamberlain was an unstoppable force, Russell bested him with savvy, gamesmanship and his advanced understanding of the nuances of team play. He was just as astute in real life, too.

Marc Stein writes:

As the literal and figurative centerpiece of Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics, and perhaps the most influential activist athlete of all-time, Russell has a strong claim to usurp anyone you could wish to name as the most important figure in the history of his sport….

Incessantly measured throughout his career against Wilt Chamberlain, and then routinely shortchanged in modern-day G.O.A.T. debates thanks to his modest offensive statistics and in part because the history of the 1950s and ‘60s NBA was so poorly preserved, Russell really belongs in his own category.


Archbishop Wester: Baptize Children of Same-Sex Couples

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico writes:

The general disposition of the church is one of hospitality, openness and welcome, in the spirit of the new evangelization. Refusing to baptize children of same-sex couples is not in keeping with this outreach, and I find it quite troubling. To refuse baptism to these children solely on the basis of the fact that they have same-sex parents, while possibly done with good intentions, is not supported by church teaching or practice, in my view….

As a pastor, I am also persuaded to baptize children of same-sex parents because the parents, by requesting baptism for their children, are showing good faith. The mere fact that they are approaching the Catholic Church in this regard, knowing that their relationship cannot be recognized as a sacrament, gives evidence that they are serious about their faith and that they wish to raise their children in that faith. Good will on their part should be presumed.

This is a time of grace for the parents. The priest, deacon or lay minister should take advantage of it by spending time with the couple, exploring the faith with them, challenging them to grow in that faith and supporting them in their desire follow Christ as Catholics. I believe that undue attention given to the fact that the couple is gay blinds the church’s minister to the abundance of positive and virtuous qualities that abide in their relationship.

You can read his full article at Outreach.



Stop Misusing ‘White Supremacy’

Christine Emba writes:

To suggest that “urgency in the workplace” is a white supremacist trait also has rather insulting implications. Is sloth the natural state among people of color? Do discipline and organizational efficiency belong to the Anglo-Saxons only?

These are obviously absurd suggestions, and the tweet was quickly deleted. But it wasn’t a one-off. Rather, it was a particularly egregious example of an emerging trend: the increasingly indiscriminate deployment of the term “white supremacy” as a criticism of various — often nonracial, even inoffensive — traits and actions.

This tactic has been popularized by a subset of less-than-rigorous anti-racism activists and normalized in primarily progressive spaces. And it often meets with justified skepticism only when it comes into contact with the mainstream….

More recently, the overbroad concept of “white supremacy culture” has become a go-to talking point in diversity, equity and inclusion trainings at a variety of left-leaning organizations….

It’s important to acknowledge that white supremacy is real. The ideology — that White people are a superior race and as a consequence deserve to dominate society — runs through our nation’s history and is reemerging in new and virulent manifestations today….

But the Buffalo mass shooter targeting Black shoppers and Biden tweeting pictures of his covid-19 workday are not the same thing and should not be conflated. Doing so flattens and cheapens a truly urgent problem, making it easier to play down and ignore. If everything is white supremacy, nothing is, and nothing needs to be done.